The 16 falls of Buffalo

The previously hyped Buffalo Sabres are having one of the most disappointing and worst seasons I’ve ever seen from an NHL team.

Despite having star players such as Hall (4) and Eichel (9), they've been terrible this season.

Despite having star players such as Hall (4) and Eichel (9), they’ve been terrible this season.

Alex Kajda, Staff Writer

On October 25th, 2019, the Buffalo Sabres sat with a record of 9-2-1 to start their 2019-20 NHL Season. Being a team with young lottery draft picks like Jack Eichel, Rasmus Dahlin, and other stars such as Jeff Skinner, their future was looking bright. The team nosedived from that point onward and finished 3rd to last in their conference, so some changes had to be made. They decided to make a splash in free agency by signing 2018 league MVP and star player Taylor Hall to a one-year deal. This was supposed to be the big year for Buffalo. They haven’t made the postseason since 2011, so with stars on the rise and a huge free agent deal, this was definitely the year to break through, right?

Instead, Buffalo fans have been treated to a nightmare of a season. Buffalo currently finds themselves on a 16-game losing streak and on the verge of breaking the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 2004 record of 18 straight losses. Jack Eichel, the number two overall selection from the 2015 draft and the face of the Sabres’ franchise, regressed by a lot this season. After scoring 36 goals in 68 games last season, Eichel finds himself with only two in 21 games played this year. Even worse, Eichel was injured early on in March and has been labelled as “out for the foreseeable future.”

Jeff Skinner, a player who put up 40 goals just two seasons ago and is being paid $9 million dollars this year, took 20 games to score his first goal of the season. Skinner, who is being paid approximately 1/9th of his team’s salary cap, was even scratched for multiple games this season.

Finally, Taylor Hall. The major free agent signing has put up two goals in 30 games played. Just barely over halfway through the regular season and Hall is already being involved in numerous trade rumors. Even worse, Hall signed a one-year deal likely to raise his price for a bigger contract next season, but all he has done is lower his value a ton from this terrible season with Buffalo. Overall, Buffalo is paying these three players $27 million for a total of seven combined goals. Some absolutely horrid numbers.

Buffalo’s main issue has been scoring, they are by far the worst team in the league in terms of goals scored and the worst part is that a lot of those goals come from the power-play, so their 5-on-5 play is even worse than the numbers show, as they’ve only scored 40 5-on-5 goals through 32 games this season. Coach Ralph Krueger was fired just last week, to no one’s surprise, and replaced by interim coach Don Granato. The team is about as rock bottom as they can be.

I can’t even imagine the pain Buffalo fans must be going through. The disappointment by the fans can be best expressed through a Facebook comment by Chris Calarco that reads “I bought a cardboard cut out to honor my aunt who passed away. Can I come pick it up so she doesn’t have to watch this anymore.”

I just can’t see where the team is supposed to go from here. They’ve been tanking for damn near a decade by this point and there’s been no progress. At least teams like the Oilers and Maple Leafs found success through tanking, but the Sabres have actually only gotten worse.

Whatever happens in Buffalo, whether it’s a total team blow-up, whether they try to make more major acquisitions, or if they suffer for another decade, all I know is that right now is about the lowest they’ll be. A team with so much potential seeing their hope blown up right in their face. Whichever direction they’ll go, I’ll be rooting for them to at least steer themselves back into the right direction.